LOS ANGELES—Celebrating its 10th year of operation, the Armenian Dramatic Arts Alliance (ADAA) is honored to host The Saroyan/Paul Human Rights Playwriting Prize, a contest which highlights voices calling out from around the globe for justice.
More than 300 entries from around the world illustrating stories about the human condition were scored by over 120 theatre professionals worldwide. These stories shed artistic light on challenging subjects and open them up for discussion in ways that are otherwise impossible. Subjects included human trafficking, treatment of transgenderism, the death penalty, child abuse, sexual abuse, racism, genocide, war, child soldiers, rights for the mentally ill, women’s rights, Islam, hidden genocides, the Syrian refugee crisis and much more.
The finalists for the 2016 Saroyan/Paul Human Rights Playwriting Prize are:
– “The Good Minister from Harare,” by June Carryl. A low-level bureaucrat is plunged into a nightmare wonderland of red tape, government thugs and revolutionary zealots after a visit from his father. When the past won’t stay buried, do you turn a blind eye and live, or die a martyr in the bloody business of liberation?
– “Gutting,” by Jeremy J. Kamps. Fourteen year-old Kali and her mother Eunice return to the Lower 9th Ward of New Orleans two years after Hurricane Katrina to find that “home” is no longer there. Despite the forces of systemic racism driving them away and apart, this mother and daughter learn that loving each other is both an act of resistance and renewal.
– “The Madres” by Stephanie Alison Walker. It’s Buenos Aires, 1979. Two women search covertly for Belen, nine months pregnant and one of the many disappeared people in Argentina’s so-called “Dirty War.”
The honorary jury will next evaluate the three plays. It is comprised of Rob Drummer, Associate Dramaturg and Director from the Bush Theatre in London; Neil McPherson, Artistic Director of the Finborough Theatre in London since 1999; and Simon Levy, Artistic Director of the Fountain Theatre in Los Angeles since 1993. The winner will receive a $10,000 award at ADAA’s awards event in early 2017.
ADAA would also like to announce six runners-up for the 2016 Saroyan/Paul Human Rights Playwriting Prize:
“Paradise” by Laura Maria Censabella, about a Yemeni-American teenager trying to reconcile her educational ambitions with her country’s restrictive traditions;
“Doing Time” by Jerry Goralnick, about a real-life theater artist and Catholic aid worker who share time in a 1957 woman’s jail;
“Zona Rosa” by Carlos Morton, about a famed Mexican doctor and AIDS activist who is murdered;
“How to Conquer America,” by David Myers, which explores the backstory of a popular dairy company and its immigrant founder.
“Bhuta/Kala,” by Nathaniel Sam Shapiro, about a theater troupe confronted with genocide in 1965 Indonesia;
“The Hunters,” by Jen Silverman, exploring two Vietnamese male prostitute brothers with a tragic history to avenge;
Honorable mentions go to the following plays for the important themes which they tackled: People Like Us by Melanie Ball; Otherland by David Cote; When After All, It Was You and Me by Kevin Doyle; Silence by Jason Grote; Kidnap Road by Catherine Filloux; This is Only A Test by Eric Reyes Loo; How to Wear A Headscarf Tutorial by Alannah Olivia; Sh ofu, Wianbu, Pi by Lucy Sheen; and A Guide For The Homesick by Ken Urban.
With the 2016 cycle of the competition, ADAA’s $10,000 Saroyan/Paul Human Rights Playwriting Prize saw its highest number of submissions ever. The competition continues its human rights focus to include plays that engage an audience with social and political issues and/or promote peace and justice.
“We received the most plays in the history of our writing contests, and we are thrilled that the Saroyan/Paul Prize is giving voice to key human rights issues and some of today’s most prevalent hot-button topics,’” said Bianca Bagatourian, ADAA founder and contest administrator.
The Saroyan/Paul Human Rights Playwriting Prize is made possible by annual support from the William Saroyan Foundation, which inaugurated the award at ADAA in 2008, and the Lillian and Varnum Paul Fund at the Armenian Church Western Diocese, which has supported ADAA’s writing prizes since its inception ten years ago.
More details regarding the 2016 prize giving event will be posted on the website as soon as it is available. www.armeniandrama.org.